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Teach Students 3 “Jewels of Matthew” Using This Study Resource
It is Laurie Polich-Short’s prayer “that you and your students discover a treasure chest” in the gospel of Matthew. In Matthew (Studies on the Go), Polich-Short provides youth workers a resource to help them equip, push, encourage, and challenge their students to live lives devoted to our loving King—all with the goal that they would be changed.
Of this gospel, Polich-Short writes:
There are jewels in Matthew…that we find in no other Gospel. The texts are rich and colorful… It is well worth your time to study this book with your students. My job is to make it engaging and fun. (7)
To help youth workers teach Matthew, there are three levels of questions: Observation questions take students to the text, Interpretation questions help them think about the text, and Application questions help your students live the text.
Below I’ve chosen to engage and share from three of the “jewels” Polich-Short says Matthew contains: the Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount, and The Great Commission. This post will show you what she says about this and other guides is true: “These are not ‘drive by’ Bible studies, aimed only at skimming the surface. These are rich, deep studies aimed at providing the busy youth worker with a tool he or she can trust.” (7)
Polich-Short notes that at the start of his sermon, Jesus is advocating for a very different way of living:
The “blessings” described in the Beatitudes are not blessings we normally hear about; they run counter to the culture we live. However when we live this way, we permeate our culture with the presence of God. (29)
In the rest of the chapter, Polich-Short cycles through the active verbs that mark each lesson:
In Share, she encourages students with the question, “Do you think the world defines blessing the same way God does? Why/Why not?” (30)
The Observe question asks, “What are the eight traits Jesus calls ‘blessed’ in the Beatitudes? (verses 3-10) Why does he say we should rejoice when we are persecuted? (verse 12).” (30)
She encourages students to Think, by asking “How are the Beatitudes different from what the world calls ‘blessed’?” (31)
Finally, Apply: “Which Beatitude in verses 3-11 do you have the hardest time living out? Which is the easiest for you to live out?” (31)
The Sermon on the Mount
In chapter 6 Polich-Short explores how to live by faith by unpacking the central chapter of Jesus’ sermon. Of the Sermon on the Mount, she writes:
Someone once gave me a piece of wisdom that is a good way to sum up Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount. “Show when you are tempted to hide, and hide when you are tempted to show.”
If we all did that, the world might think differently about Christians. (34)
At the start of the study she encourages students to share. One question she asks is, “When it comes to money, would you say your treasure is on earth or in heaven? Why?” (35)
An observation question includes: “What does Jesus say will happen if you do your 'acts of righteousness' to be seen by others? (verse 1) What will happen if you do them secretly? (verse 4)” (35)
To help students interpret the sermon she asks, “What does the Lord’s Prayer teach us about how to pray? (verses 9-13) How should we start our prayers? What should we pray for?” (35)
And then the study helps them apply it: “What is your biggest worry right now? Commit to praying about it every time it comes to your mind. Choose a prayer partner in your small group who can help you with this.” (36)
Finally, an optional activity encourages students to consider “acts of righteousness” they could do throughout the week. The next week the leader has the group members raise their hands if they were able to do their act of righteousness, thanking God for the acts that were done.
The Great Commission
One final “jewel in Matthew” is the Great Commission. She explores it by considering it in light of the resurrection:
While he was alive, they followed. Seeing him resurrected, they worship. Something big has happened to their Lord and their faith. Thinking back, they realize it is just what Jesus said would happen. And now it’s their job to tell everyone else. At the end of the chapter, your students will realize it’s their job to do that, too. (154)
Again, Polich–Short encourages students to share at the outset: “Do you think the responsibility for leading others to Jesus is up to God or us? If you believe it’s both, which part is God’s responsibility and which is ours?” (155)
Two particular questions helps students apply Jesus’ words in Matt. 28:19-20 to their own lives: “How have you seen the Great Commission lived out since Jesus spoke it in this chapter? What have you personally done to fulfill the Great Commission? Do you find it easy or hard to share your faith?” (156)
The final optional activity is a good one, because it helps them fulfill the Great Commission:
Give your students two minutes each to tell the story of who Jesus was and why he came. Give them some time to write down or think through their thoughts, and then share how they would tell the story of Jesus to someone who didn’t know it…(156)
If you lead student leaders, this book and series is the perfect resource for your busy volunteers. Add this to your youth worker toolkit and pass them along to your leaders to help them help students think deeply, talk openly, and apply what they are learning to their lives.
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